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Channel 5 ramps up specialist factual programming with eight history commissions

UK broadcaster Channel 5 is bolstering its slate of specialist factual programming with the commission of eight new history series. New York-headquartered Lion TV will produce five of the series, with ...
August 26, 2020

UK broadcaster Channel 5 is bolstering its slate of specialist factual programming with the commission of eight new history series.

New York-headquartered Lion TV will produce five of the series, with a particular focus on the Tudor period. Titles include Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, ExecutionThomas CromwellKensington: The Secret PalaceInside Hampton Court: The Ultimate Royal Retreat and a third series of Inside the Tower of London.

UK-based ITN Productions, meanwhile, will produce three revisionist biographies of notable British historical figures in 3 x 120-minute programs titled Nelson, Lawrence of Arabia and Brunel.

Each film will examine their achievements and controversies, with experts and historians exploring and reappraising their characters.

Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, Execution (3 x 60 minutes), from Motion Content and Lion TV, will be presented by historian Tracy Borman and explore the downfall of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn.

Also fronted by Borman, Thomas Cromwell (2 x 60 minutes) pieces together the “rags-to-riches” story of King Henry VIII’s first minister, recounting the “knife-edge decisions, secret locations and hidden letters” that led to his rise and fall.

Kensington: The Secret Palace is an observational documentary series that takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the royal home. The 2 x 60-minute series follows the palace’s dedicated curators, guides, restorers and gardeners.

The 2 x 60-minute hybrid observational docuseries Inside Hampton Court: The Ultimate Royal Retreat goes behind the scenes at the Tudor palace, delving into the history, exploring “hidden” corridors and private rooms.

Elsewhere, feature-length documentary Nelson focuses on the Battle of Trafalgar’s famous Admiral, delving into Britain’s military successes and failures under his leadership, as well as the links to Britain’s slave trade.

Finally, Lawrence of Arabia tells the story of the First World War military leader who united the tribes of Arabia against the Turkish army; while Brunel explores the life and creations of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, dubbed “the man who built Britain.”

Anne Boleyn: Arrest, Trial, Execution, Inside Hampton Court: The Ultimate Royal Retreat and Inside the Tower of London have been commissioned by Lucy Willis for Channel 5, part of ViacomCBS.

Thomas Cromwell was commissioned by Daniel Pearl; while Kensington: The Secret Palace was commissioned by Kit Morey.

Guy Davies commissioned NelsonLawrence of Arabia and Brunel.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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